His first proper solo album following his departure from the seminal, mystical Senegalese group Orchestra Baobab, Peace in Africa, is a sprawling affair. It incorporates modern hip-hop and R&B beats, alongside distinctly Afrobeat horns with nods to his Senegalese heritage plus hits of calypso and dub. Ibra Fam’s songs meld these styles seamlessly, naturally moving between lyrics in English, French and Wolof. These are songs that implore you to dance, but Ibra Fam isn’t afraid to explore a more tender side than the staccato horns and bouncing beats might initially portray. There is an undercurrent of longing for change that rolls through his music, and his fearless calls to challenge systemic issues punctuate his songs and transcend language. Bringing his white hot performance to Calgary, Cheikh Ibra Fam marks another of those occasions where audiences might walk in unsure of what to expect and leave wondering how they hadn’t come across him before.
Biography by Derek McEwen